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Patients have a choice in where they choose to receive health care services. While some may argue that the expectations patients have of medical providers have evolved, we feel it is a broader issue. Patients have a greater drive to be more involved in their healthcare planning and they choose providers who help facilitate this.

Technology has created more opportunities for improved communication between provider and patient, yet many providers are falling short of meeting their patient’s communication needs. If providers want to bridge the patient relationship gap with their patients, the following five tips will help.

Better Understand The Patient

A Prophet study found that 81% of patients are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience. Healthcare providers are overestimating the quality of their patient experience. This discrepancy leaves patients frustrated and providers confused. Providers should take steps to understand the needs of their patient population better. A great way to start is through a patient survey.

Improve Digital Communication

Patients want to be engaged with their providers via digital mediums. A Solution Reach study found that the majority (79%) of people would like to receive texts from their providers for things like appointment reminders. The vast majority (73%) also want to be able to text their providers when needed. This tidbit of information can be extremely beneficial to the practices that take advantage of using HIPAA compliant text messaging services to enhance communication. Companies like OhMD are making this process easier for providers to implement.

Build Trust

Patient loyalty is down in both Generation X and Millennial consumers. Studies show that liking your provider isn’t enough. 43% of Millennials state they are likely to switch providers within the next few years and 54% have already made the switch. 44% of Generation X consumers are likely to switch PCPs in the next three years. To improve trust, providers should become partners with their patients. Encourage communication by engaging in an open dialogue with patients to ensure they understand and are comfortable with the information provided.

Bend to Your Patient’s Communication Needs

According to the Institute of Medicine, more than half of Americans have some form of limited health literacy. This population also has a higher rate of hospital readmission. This is a challenge on many levels for healthcare providers who not only want to improve compliance and achieve optimal outcomes but also for those who seek to improve patient engagement and retention. One study found that 80% of patients forgot what clinicians told them and 50% got the information provided wrong! Therefore, patient education must be delivered in a variety of formats that meet the unique learning styles and diversified needs of patients. Consider adding short videos to your library to help patients understand the information being provided.

Prove Your Worth

Today’s consumers are bombarded with ads. It can be challenging to distinguish what is real versus what is self. Consumers tend to rely on patient testimonials for their healthcare decisions. Many organizations have failed to take advantage of using the patient story in their marketing efforts. Prove your worth by being more transparent in your medical marketing efforts. Share outcomes so patients can better estimate their potential success.

Advances in technology have created more opportunities for providers to bridge the patient relationship gap. The onus is on the provider to implement tactics that work both for their practice and patients. The first step, however, is understanding the patient better so their needs can be met.